Arch Puddington, the Vice–President for Research, Freedom House Organization, in his study reveals the state of freedom in 2014 worsened significantly in nearly every part of the world. For the ninth consecutive year, Freedom in the World, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of global political rights and civil liberties, showed an overall decline. Indeed, acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government—and of an international system built on democratic ideals—is under greater threat than at any point in the last 25 years.
The number of countries designated by Freedom in the World as Free in 2014 stood at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s 195 polities and nearly 2.9 billion people—or 40 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries increased by one from the previous year’s report. The number of countries qualifying as Partly Free stood at 55, or 28 percent of all countries assessed, and they were home to just over 1.7 billion people, or 24 percent of the world’s total. The number of Partly Free countries decreased by four from the previous year. A total of 51 countries were deemed Not Free, representing 26 percent of the world’s polities. The number of people living under Not Free conditions stood at 2.6 billion people, or 36 percent of the global population, though it is important to note that more than half of this number lives in just one country: China. The number of Not Free Countries increased by three from 2013.
The number of electoral democracies stood at 125, three more than in 2013. Five countries achieved electoral democracy status: Fiji, Kosovo, Madagascar, the Maldives, and the Solomon Islands. Two countries, Libya and Thailand, lost their designation as electoral democracies.
The lack of democratic gains around the world was conspicuous. The one notable exception was Tunisia, which became the first Arab country to achieve the status of Free since Lebanon was gripped by civil war 40 years ago. Tunisia rose from Partly Free to Free, while Guinea- Bissau improved from Not Free to Partly Free. Four countries fell from Partly Free to Not Free: Burundi, Libya, Thailand, and Uganda. By contrast, a troubling number of large, economically powerful, or regionally influential countries moved backward: Russia, Venezuela, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, and Azerbaijan. Hungary, a European Union member state, also saw a sharp slide in its democratic standards as part of a process that began in 2010.